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When it comes to Association marketing, there are some proven approaches you can take to retain – and gain – the types of members you target.
One of my favorites is creating heroes. The key is truly to position your association as a guide, not the hero, which should be reserved for the members.
How do I make a member a hero, you ask?
That is most easily done through storytelling, and frankly, members tell the best stories. This strategy will help you attract the members you do want, and at the same time, it can repel the members you don’t want.
As with anyone shopping a brand, customers want to be able to peer inside and take a look at what you can offer them before they buy. It’s the same with any association. This strategy will help you deliver on that and allow them to check you out.
For starters, identify current members who highly rank your organization. Then, match those members with your values. Make a list of those members and concentrate on making them heroes that can potentially tell your story for you.
Make them “famous” by letting them promote your association with a story. In turn, you will attract more of the types of members you seek. This strategy will also help you to tell your story before someone else does.
Focus on who
Focusing on “the who,” not “the what,” will magnetize your marketing. Those who put the emphasis on what will ultimately make their association transactional, which equates to making your offering replaceable. Nobody wants that!
Testimonials are a great way to start telling stories; depending on the story you can use them in every area of your business – to support recruitment renewals, membership renewals, and events and programs.
Another tip is to demonstrate how your offering can take audiences from where they are now to a better scenario that improves their lives. This story can be told by your members or even your association.
Getting the story out
Consider sharing stories both digitally and through print with newsletters or brochures.
Digitally, you can double your open rates when you lead with a human-interest story. It doesn’t have to be about your association. In fact, you should be sure to distribute a small percentage of content to your audience that doesn’t include a mention of your association.
Note: Companies who do it right include being helpful as a part of their brand promise whether consumers do business with them or not. Back to the newsletter, include stories about a member running a marathon, or doing good in their community (this is what makes them the hero).
No doubt, this type of strategy will help your build your own community. Even better, research what your members care about most and include those topics in your newsletters.
Don’t forget print! Give members something tactile to peruse to further their connection with your association. By adding a printed newsletter to your communications plan, you start to build a relationship of trust. Hint: People like to do business with those whom they trust!
Newsletters, brochures, and direct mail all allow you to sell one-to-one. People spend on average 30 minutes on any given day reading through their physical mail, as compared to 11.1 seconds on one email.
At Mount Vernon Print, we do believe in a multichannel philosophy. Combining print with a digital strategy is really one of the best ways to reach the right members and potential ones. Try a mix and then figure out what works best for your association.
Overall, be sure your members feel valued and provide them with value, and of course – make them heroes! We would be happy to help you with that.
In my experience, leaders come in many different “personality” shapes and sizes. The great ones though, seem to have some common characteristics to me that stand out. Experts on the topic of leadership agree that there are certain principles needed in order to lead a team to greatness.
One characteristic that great leaders share is the common ability to adapt to their surroundings while empowering a team to succeed. They understand that fostering a strong culture supports the foundation for accomplishing any mission.
In business – and in life for that matter – change is inevitable, and great leaders embrace change and are always preparing for it.
Some leaders are loud, and some are a bit more introverted. Some have excellent intuition, and some rely more on data analytics to guide them, while others rely on both data and their gut instincts. The great ones will work to continually improve their emotional intelligence (IQ).
According to a survey conducted with the American Board of Experts, these qualities are the common links among great leaders:
1) Strong beliefs / motivation
Great leaders have conviction when it comes to their ideas. Without it, they can’t expect others to follow them, right? From there, they build steam by listening to others.
A great leader will never force someone to follow him or her – the following should happen organically through encouragement. They lead by example, always putting their best foot forward. Showing passion, having confidence in themselves and their followers will motivate and inspire a team of people to be the best they can be.
2) Respect / team building
It’s not possible to lead effectively without respect. Good leaders build a good, cohesive team by showing respect, and interest in their ideas. They show empathy to others around them to make an emotional connection with their team members. They are able to communicate and listen well.
It’s crucial that they understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member. Successful leaders also surround themselves with strong individuals that they can mold into a “well-oiled machine” of competent people that work well together. They also tend to have the skill to nurture others to create the leaders of tomorrow.
3) Striving to be better
Great leaders strive not only to improve their emotional IQ, but they are always looking to make constant improvements to their company’s inner workings with the latest technology, or a breakthrough that could propel their business to the next level. They are prepared for almost anything that comes their way.
They have a clear vision and use available resources to solve problems. They make tough decisions and take risks knowing that they could be wrong. They take responsibility by admitting to mistakes. When things go right, they shine the spotlight on others, taking pride that they helped along the way. Having a clear vision also enables good leaders to strategically plan.
Not only do they demonstrate a clear focus, but they are courageous, display honesty, integrity, humility – which leads me to the next much-overlooked trait.
When envisioning the top characteristics of great leaders, humility probably doesn’t come to mind, but this one is just as important as the rest. People often think that showing humility is a weakness, but that really isn’t the case.
Research shows that humility is more closely associated with positive qualities including sincerity, modesty, fairness, loyalty, and authenticity. It is possible to possess these traits while still being strong and courageous.
Leaders who are humble aren’t afraid to hire people who are smarter than them. Rather, they surround themselves with the right people and encourage them to speak up. They champion the best ideas, no matter who thought of them. This type of culture can cultivate the best from every department in any company.
Humble leaders not only admit to their mistakes, but they often try to understand where they went wrong or what can be done to prevent mistakes in the future. They acknowledge this negative feedback with a thoughtful response.
No matter what traits leaders have though, at the end of the day it really comes down to simply getting the job done. To make the world a better place, hopefully, the great ones will possess the traits above.
Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash
As a marketer, you know that utilizing data is the key to reaching the right customers at the right time. Hopefully, your team analyzes data as much as possible to help guide your company’s strategy and decision-making.
More specifically, when it comes to direct mail, it is possible to be proactive about customer engagement by using technology. By understanding customer engagement prior to production—not months afterward—you can ensure better decision-making and a better return on your campaign investment.
TrackMaven says that 47.5% of marketers believe they are “data-informed” yet their analysis only happens after-the-fact to see what worked as they pore over campaign results. A majority of marketers know that testing effectively using direct mail can be very challenging.
The best way to become proactive with direct mail is to use technology, like Acuity by RR Donnelley. This digital mail-sort simulator uses predictive analysis to reduce design and mailing costs. Because of its ability to improve audience targeting, it also increases the response rate to ensure success.
Acuity is full of features that deliver:
- Cost Reduction – Identify the best-perceived offer and eliminate production costs that might have been spent on direct mail pieces that do not resonate with the intended audience.
- Improved Targeting – Creative variables are evaluated based on responses in time to refine (or create new) messaging.
- Quicker Results – Wait time is reduced. It only takes about four weeks to understand which creative will generate the best results.
- Dynamic Testing – Testing multiple features against each other within a controlled environment drives more relevant messaging.
In short, Acuity gives you the ability to test and identify which format, offer or imagery will receive the best response. So, when the remainder of the direct mail pieces in your campaign goes out, you can have confidence that your campaign will achieve the biggest impact, making you a proactive marketer.
Contact me to learn more about how to drive engagement and measurable ROI with your direct mail campaigns.
Photo: courtesy of Franki Chamaki of Unsplash
At Mount Vernon Print, we see marketers using direct mail more and more because of its power to acquire new customers. If your company is also utilizing direct mail for an integrated omnichannel strategy, we’re sharing a tip with you that you need to take advantage of.
It is possible to also turn your direct mail piece into an email in a snap by using a free service offered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) called Informed Delivery.
Informed Delivery provides marketers with two for the price of one by generating multiple impressions from a single mail piece. How, you ask? The service sends email notifications about what is to come in their physical mail a day or two before it is scheduled to arrive.
The Informed Delivery notification lets customers (who opt-in) view digitally-scanned images of letter-size mail and color images from participating mailers via the mobile app, online or in a daily email at any time. This is especially useful for people who travel, and frankly, who doesn’t want to know what’s coming in the mail?
The USPS launched this service as a limited area pilot program about four years ago, and it continues to grow every year. As of this year, 13.8 million people have registered for Informed Delivery, and more than half of those registered did opt-in for the email notifications to see what the mailman is bringing them. Boiling it down by the number of residences, 11.7 million households are registered.
The numbers don’t lie, people like it! A recent report from USPS said that 93% of registered users would recommend Informed Delivery to friends, family, or colleagues. And, looking at the results of the first one million records emailed through Informed delivery, they received an 83% open rate – more than twice that of any industry average.
How marketers can use Informed Delivery
The process is actually pretty simple. Note: For a letter, postcard, or flat to be eligible for Informed Delivery, it must be automation-compatible and scanned through USPS equipment.
First, create hard copy mail as usual, determine the type of campaign you’ll be conducting, and develop your mailing list. Design your piece with this in mind:
- Offer a strong call-to-action including interactive content. Provide a direct URL that helps to drive consumer response.
- Design the paper piece with a clean, simple layout with digital viewing in mind
- Size your direct mail piece to 300px width by 200px height
Second, provide USPS with campaign elements. They offer two methods of self-serve campaign submission. The most common method is the Mailer Campaign Portal, where 95% of campaigns are entered.
Third, induct your mailing as usual. Then sit back and digitally monitor the progress. You can analyze the results of your direct mail campaign by viewing email open rates and the number of click-throughs – providing additional insights to optimize your marketing spend.
We would be happy to assist you with your campaign utilizing Informed Delivery. Contact me and I will show you how to utilize this in your next campaign.
Decisions are a part of everyday life, whether it’s what shirt to wear or signing on the dotted line for a million-dollar business venture. So, how should we formulate a decision? I’ve found that the best approach is using multiple decision-making tools to get to the best answer for everyone.
Those making decisions currently rely at least partially on artificial intelligence. According to the 2018 Data and Marketing Association (DMA) Statistical Fact Book, 51% of marketing leaders already use, or plan to use, AI technology over the next two years, and about 50% said, “it is an important objective to make decisions based on data.”
What about good old-fashioned intuition? Using one’s gut instinct can only take you so far. It’s important to be objective and leverage good data to support the ideas you have.
In fact, the successful people that I know analyze data and use their intuition to make sound business decisions.
Mistakes will undoubtedly happen, but when they do, reduce your risk as much as possible by finding ways to lessen the loss. There is much to be learned from failure.
Some say Thomas Edison failed over 1,000 times before he invented the light bulb. He had a different take on his innovation. Edison said, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." Successful people will have a plan B in place, knowing that circumstances vary and may not be within their control.
It’s important to do your research before making decisions. Even if everyone is in favor of an idea, you should still do your due diligence before forging ahead. Good decision-making entails a balance of taking time to do your homework, and being careful not to purposely look for red flags that could derail you or squash the entrepreneurial spirit of a team.
I find that I gain insight when I least expect it. For clarity, be sure to give your brain a break. Slowing down gives you the ability to listen to your instincts with better clarity: This is why meditation is practiced by so many.
The most important thing -- look at the entire picture when making big decisions. Ask yourself these questions:
- How will it impact future business or future opportunities?
- How will it fit in with my current responsibilities and priorities?
- Will I need to put something else on the back burner?
Reach out. Don’t make decisions in isolation. Tap into your team or a network for insight. The best question to ask others is “What is your thinking on this?” It will give you the most helpful feedback. Never ask what they think you should do, and keep your confidant group small if you are seeking fast input for quicker decisions.
Photo: Courtesy Fancycrave on Unsplash
Can you believe that inkjet printing has captured half of the digital color print market globally? We can because it is more capable than ever of overcoming many of today’s print manufacturing challenges and it delivers just what our customers need!
As technology progresses, so do customer expectations of a seamless brand experience — this includes personalization in all channels. We know from experience that inkjet technology is the perfect tool to complement an omnichannel approach.
Inkjet technology ensures your communications are agile, and it delivers 100% personalization across an entire page. Brands can maintain a flow of relevant physical communications that complement other channels OR can be integrated with the branded interactions your customers are probably already receiving in the digital channel.
If millennials are part of your target audience, then even more reason to shift your strategy to include personalized print, because 84% of millennials willingly spend time opening and looking through their mail, according to a recent white paper by Xerox.
You are most likely familiar with older print methods, like offset. Consider these advantages of using inkjet technology:
- Print cost-effectively by incorporating customized full-color marketing content even on high volumes
- Improve time-to-market for targeted publications
- Produce high-volume jobs cost-effectively with a shorter lead time
- Transform catalogs from static offset to personalized, revenue-driving communications
- Create large ROI-driving personalized and triggered direct mail campaigns.
While we are on the subject of personalization, it’s hard not to mention the importance of data management and the skills that are needed to support increased personalization. Appropriately managing customer data will help to determine how best to generate customized offers based of off each person’s history and preferences.
Digital technology is probably more versatile than most people know! Consider inkjet for all of your print needs, whether those pieces are books, transactional, commercial print, or catalogs.
Increasingly, customers expect a smooth connection across all their touchpoints. Mount Vernon can help you get there with a deeper level of engagement and value with inkjet technology!
Photo: Courtesy of Xerox
Utilizing technology can propel your marketing efforts and is truly worth your time and investment when it’s done right. Specifically, I’m talking about a cutting-edge tech trend that has made some great advancements: marketing automation.
This trend is expected to grow exponentially and become even more sophisticated. On a basic level, marketers can expedite the busy work, leaving more time for creativity and strategy.
- Automation can be used to analyze buyers’ digital behavior to personalize, engage, and inspire, including through the use of print.
- It allows marketers to experiment and test to see what works, providing quick course-correction if needed.
- Automation can find the right prospect, create the right message, and deliver it at the right time, both digitally and traditionally (ex. a printed newsletter or a direct mail piece to cut through the digital noise).
On a deeper level, marketing automation has the potential to strengthen the partnership between marketing and sales departments, removing some of the “us vs. them” mentality, also known as silos. Sales teams will no longer hound marketing for leads, and marketing teams will not need to give sales a hard time for not following up on those hard-earned leads.
But, before you take that leap into automation, here are three things you must consider:
1) Define your strategy
Without a sound strategy (based off of your revenue goals), you will not be able to pick the right marketing automation tool, because believe me, there are many in which to choose. During your research, ask yourself, “What do we need it to accomplish?”
When implementing a marketing automation platform, you want to be certain that your company will use all of the awesome capabilities it provides (and not to pay for capabilities you won’t use). Having a strategy in place will ensure that doesn’t happen.
2) Understand your data
Knowing your data will help you choose the right marketing automation software. It serves as the foundation that will guide you in your search for the perfect tool that fits your business.
Your team should know:
- If your data is clean or not
- How it’s formatted
- If it comes from single or multiple sources
- How you want to use that data
Big tech companies like Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, and IBM tend to present their automated offerings at a high level, not understanding the minutia of your data, hence creating a knowledge gap on how their software will fit into the inner workings of your business.
To narrow the gap, be sure to involve others in your selection process (like third-party service providers) who understand how your data is being used, and are experienced in marketing automation solutions.
3) Keep Customers at the heart of everything you do:
Keeping customers at the heart of your business will most definitely lead to success.
Because, frankly, what is really driving this automation process is the desire to fulfill customer expectations of a unified multichannel brand experience (hint: that goes back to #2 and cannot be done without collecting and utilizing data).
I carry that same philosophy in my print business. I know print has to be able to be tracked, monitored, and measured just like digital channels are handled, because in the end it is the customer’s satisfaction that makes or breaks every business. Let me know how I can help …
Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash
Businesses like Amazon, Apple, and Starbucks have consumers programmed to expect personalization. The healthcare world is catching up: Healthcare marketing is becoming more personal to match the expectations of Americans.
Studies show that consumers, especially younger ones, want to receive an experience that is tailored to them. Just like with big brands, healthcare members expect their healthcare providers to connect with them on a personal, one-to-one level.
Speaking directly not only positively affects a healthcare company’s bottom line, but it also can have a big impact on everyone’s health, keeping check-ups or screenings top of mind, and new tailored offerings or programs front and center.
There are many things the healthcare industry can do to engage members. By creating personalized member collateral and enrollment materials, you will have patients feeling like more than just a number.
Members want to be heard and understood. They want to be given clear directions on next steps, and personalized printed enrollment materials are the first steps to providing information that is actionable – allowing them to be in better control of their health care.
Use data to get personal
Email marketing, including automated emails, can also help nurture your members with timely and personalized messages. Here are a few tips.
- Set up communications based on pre-defined triggers such as behaviors or demographics.
- Use email to ask for member feedback.
- Send relevant, healthcare-specific material.
- Make members feel special by sending birthday emails. Wish them another year of health and happiness.
When it comes to physical marketing materials, take advantage of technology that helps you utilize print as a tactic within a data-driven campaign. This method allows MCOs and other healthcare organizations to create personalized direct mail communications with print-ready files for printing and mailing as cost-effectively as possible.
Mailers can also leverage transactional documents, like EOBs and insurance information, along with promotional content that is often tied into account data. These pieces are tailored to the recipient and prevent wasting paper on inserts that do not apply to that member.
Ultimately, the goal is to provide communication solutions that maintain compliance but also demonstrate change and positively impact health care. Healthcare organizations must lock in the right partners to assist in their personalization quest, ensuring member data is safely and effectively harnessed to meet objectives for both organizations and members.
If successful, overall member engagement and satisfaction will continue to rise for your organization, as well as the health of each member, which is a win-win for all!
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Data opens many doors when it comes to reaching customers and prospects. It makes it possible to personalize any communication, and it truly allows any business to make better-informed marketing decisions.
The key is to collect the right types of data in order to improve customers’ experiences. Understanding customer behavior enables you to create relevant communications, timed perfectly to meet their needs.
What’s more, analyzing data and behavioral insights give anyone the power to create more targeted communications, with strategies that can build engagement, not to mention brand loyalty.
This tactic isn’t just for brands though. The healthcare industry also reaps the rewards of creating data-driven campaigns for members.
By sending personalized direct mail, you are creating a conversation with your customer, prospect, or member. For the best data-driven campaign results, be sure to design your direct mail piece with multiple response channel options.
We see data-driven print communications playing an even bigger role than ever before within the healthcare industry. Here are two ways in which providers can use personalized communications to engage members:
1) Personalized patient outreach
Providers who want to successfully engage members know that personalized patient outreach is pivotal. They understand what kinds of data to harness that encompasses a member’s life, not just a transaction. Even better, the more actionable information a member is provided, the more members can take charge of their own healthcare. And that benefits all of us in the long run.
2) Influencing healthy behaviors
Many healthcare facilities do a good job of influencing healthy behaviors in-house, but there is some work to be done on the outside. They must get better as a whole when it comes to communicating screenings, patient actions and follow-up care communications – something that is accomplished efficiently with data-driven print.
For example, my veterinarian sure does an excellent job of reminding me when it’s time for “Max’s” next check-up or annual shot. Shouldn’t we as humans receive the same follow-up care?
Providing general health education is also part of it. For example, awarding members for watching a video or taking a health assessment online can be a great way to engage and promote healthy behaviors.
At Mount Vernon, we have technology that allows our customer base to utilize print within a data-driven campaign. This gives customers the opportunity to create personalized communications using print-ready files that not only include the printed piece, but also provides them with the ability to have it mailed – straight from our facility – providing the most cost-effective direct mail to fit any budget.
Imagine the positive influence if we all received healthcare communications, keeping us up-to-date on next steps for OUR specific healthcare. The right communications can have a profound ability to educate, inform and motivate members to take charge of their own care.
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Protecting data is of the utmost importance for any business that handles personal information, especially for those of us with healthcare or financial services customers. It is our job to protect your PHI – personal healthcare information.
Data breaches seem to be as common as catching a cold, as more and more organizations succumb to the acts of hackers. Sadly, 60% of data breach victims are small- to medium-sized businesses as they are at the greatest risk for attack.
With that being said, it is more important than ever to safeguard sensitive information such as email addresses, addresses, social security numbers and health records... just to name a few. This is why Mount Vernon is SOC2 certified and in 2019 we will become SOC2/HITRUST compliant. In addition, our parent company, RRD, has secure facilities that can meet your needs in various areas around the country. This compliance means we will have strict security measures in place to protect any personal information that we handle.
The Mount Vernon staff – all of us – are required to go through special training to make sure we follow very specific protocols for handling sensitive communications. The print shop also has to meet rigid HIPAA standards to obtain the certification.
When it comes to protecting sensitive data, here are some tips that you need to consider, both in a partner and for your own safety.
1) Create a culture of security-minded employees: Educate your employees to be mindful of security practices so they become automatic, no matter what the project entails. For example, locking your computer when you’re away from your desk. It seems basic, but it’s effective. This is yet another reason why our entire staff goes through the certification process.
2) Control access to personal information: Only give access to the team that needs it. Set up safeguards like limited access to certain areas of the building, shredding overages, etc. Taking the right precautions will allow your business to be HIPPA compliant, avoiding an audit by those who enforce it, like the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
3) Network access: It is tempting to use networking tools such as peer-to-peer file sharing and instant messaging, but those should be used with extreme caution. Wireless signals should operate in an encrypted mode so only the intended recipient can pick up the signal and access the sensitive data.
4) Strong Passwords help: Although passwords can’t stop hackers, they are everyone’s first line of defense and have the ability to slow down or discourage an attack on data.
5) Protect staff’s mobile devices: If employee devices cannot support encryption, don’t use them. Be sure to set up strong access controls for phones too.
I’m glad that other segments are cracking down on the handling of sensitive data as well. Organizations like unions, and the finance and insurance industries, are also requiring a higher level of security compliance when searching for communication partners who are SOC2 compliant. The bar has been raised.
The next time you are looking for a solution provider to handle sensitive data, check to see if they have security measures in place. I can assure you we do!
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